Towards welfare biology: Evolutionary economics of animal consciousness and suffering

  title={Towards welfare biology: Evolutionary economics of animal consciousness and suffering},
  author={Yew-Kwang Ng},
  journal={Biology and Philosophy},
  • Y. Ng
  • Published 1 July 1995
  • Economics
  • Biology and Philosophy
Welfare biology is the study of living things and their environment with respect to their welfare (defined as net happiness, or enjoyment minus suffering). Despite difficulties of ascertaining and measuring welfare and relevancy to normative issues, welfare biology is a positive science. Evolutionary economics and population dynamics are used to help answer basic questions in welfare biology: Which species are affective sentients capable of welfare? Do they enjoy positive or negative welfare… 
Does suffering dominate enjoyment in the animal kingdom? An update to welfare biology
An error is found in Ng’s model that negates the original conclusion that there is likely to be more suffering than enjoyment in nature and illustrates the dynamics around suffering and enjoyment with the most plausible parameters.
How welfare biology and commonsense may help to reduce animal suffering
An explanation for how welfare biology could help to reduce this paradox by answering some difficult questions regarding animal welfare and ways to increase the influence of animal welfare advocates are discussed.
Computational animal welfare: towards cognitive architecture models of animal sentience, emotion and wellbeing
This work develops a functional and generic definition of subjective phenomena as any process or state of the organism that exists from the first-person perspective and cannot be isolated from the animal subject, and outlines a general cognitive architecture to model simple forms of subjective processes and sentience.
The Moral Consideration of Animals in Philosophy
Research in economics is anthropocentric. It only cares about the welfare of humans, and usually does not concern itself with animals. When it does, animals are treated as resources, biodiversity, or
Changing attitudes towards animals in the wild and speciesism
It is argued that despite Ng’s claim that the authors should postpone the defense of those animals that live in the wild, there do have reasons to start spreading concern for them now, and that raising awareness about speciesism can help to increase concern for animals living in nature.
Accounting for demography in the assessment of wild animal welfare
The concept of welfare expectancy is applied to published demographic models for >80 species to illustrate the diversity of age-specific mortality patterns and entertain hypotheses about the relationship between demography and welfare.
Animal welfare: antispeciesism, veganism and a "life worth living"
It is shown that more antispeciesism increases meat consumption if and only if animals’ utility is positive, and that farm-animal experts and frequent meat eaters are more likely to believe that the lives of farm animals are worth living.
From preference to happiness: Towards a more complete welfare economics
  • Y. Ng
  • Economics
    Soc. Choice Welf.
  • 2003
It is argued that welfare economics is too narrow in focus and should be expanded in a number of aspects to make the analysis more complete and hence more useful.
Wild Animal Suffering is Intractable
Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the


From an animal's point of view: Motivation, fitness, and animal welfare
  • M. Dawkins
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1990
Abstract To study animal welfare empirically we need an objective basis for deciding when an animal is suffering. Suffering includes a wide range ofunpleasant emotional states such as fear, boredom,
Pleasure: the common currency.
  • M. Cabanac
  • Biology
    Journal of theoretical biology
  • 1992
Ecological Frames of Mind: The Role of Cognition in Behavioral Ecology
  • S. Yoerg
  • Psychology, Biology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1991
I make several arguments for the benefits and the necessity of a sophisticated assessment by ecologists of the cognitive aspects of behavioral adaptation, and suggest that without a thorough integration of cognitive psychology with behavioral ecology, the understanding of the relation between behavior and selective pressures will be compromised.
Selection by consequences.
Natural selection has now made its case, but similar delays in recognizing the role of selection in the other fields could deprive us of valuable help in solving the problems which confront us.
Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence
The evidence of the actual evolution of the vertebrate brain is analyzed by reviewing morphological data on endocasts and skeletons of several hundred fossil species and comparing these with living
The Insect Mind: Physics or Metaphysics?
When we attempt to infer from an animal’s overt behavior whether its brain might be thinking or merely computing, a variety of intuitively suggestive lines of evidence become unreliable. Many
Cognitive ethology : the minds of other animals : essays in honor of Donald R. Griffin
C.A. Ristau, Cognitive Ethology: An Overview, and aspects of the cognitive Ethology of an Injury- Feigning Bird, the Piping Plover.
Welfarism and utilitarianism: a rehabilitation
  • Y. Ng
  • Philosophy, Economics
  • 1990
Utilitarianism seems to be going out of fashion, amidst increasing concerns for issues of freedom, equality, and justice. At least, anti-utilitarian and non-utilitarian moral philosophers have been
A scientific assessment of welfare
‘Welfare is a wide term that embraces both the physical and mental wellbeing of the animal. Any attempt to evaluate welfare, therefore, must take into account the scientific evidence available